help launch pioneering
high school ethnic studies course
fall, students at Sacramento's Hiram Johnson High School are the
first to take a brand-new class in ethnic studies. The course, which
was developed by a team of California State University, Sacramento
students and faculty along with Hiram Johnson faculty and administrators,
comes at the forefront of legislative effort that will require ethnic
studies curriculum in high schools statewide.
The new curriculum kicked off with the start of the fall semester.
"It could have a statewide effect," says Gregory Mark,
chair of the CSUS ethnic studies department. "It could become
a model curriculum for the ethnic studies component that will soon
be required in high schools."
Hiram Johnson history teacher James Fabionar will lead four sessions
of the class for about 100 freshmen. On some days, the class will
be taught by CSUS ethnic studies students, and throughout the year
CSUS faculty members will serve as guest speakers. In addition,
seniors from Hiram Johnson will act as teaching assistants.
Mark says one of the goals of the program is to head off violence
by teaching tolerance. It's a message that Fabionar, who earned
his teaching credential at CSUS, says is needed. "There are
significant cultural conflicts that occur within groups and between
groups at the school," he says. The school's population is
30 percent Asian, 23 percent Hispanic and 14 percent black.
Research on the new curriculum began last semester when students
in a CSUS ethnic studies class conducted door-to-door surveys and
focus groups to determine community needs. Ethnic studies students
worked with CSUS professor James Sobredo and Fabionar to develop
each of the course's lesson plans.
Four of them also interned with the Asian Pacific Islander Youth
Violence Prevention Center.
The course will introduce key concepts in ethnic studies such as
identity and culture, Sobredo says. Students will also study specific
groups - Hispanic, Asian, Native American and European. Later, they'll
look at multicultural topics such as what is a nation, immigration
and acclimation, and stereotypes.
The course's mix of Hiram Johnson faculty, CSUS students and faculty,
and twelfth-grade student assistants should also offer an informal
mentoring influence by placing role models in the classroom. "It's
phenomenal that a whole group of experts in the field will directly
reach the kids," Fabionar says. "And having the older
students working with younger students offer them a connection they
wouldn't have otherwise."
The Asian Pacific Islander Youth Violence Prevention Center is funded
by a five-year, $6 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control
with Mark as the director. It operates jointly at the University
of Hawaii at Manoa and the National Council on Crime and Delinquency
in Oakland. This summer, seven students from the ethnic studies
department took part in internships in Hawaii and Sacramento where
they worked on the ethnic studies curriculum and research projects
to reduce youth violence among Asians and Pacific Islanders in the
More information is available by contacting the CSUS public affairs
office at (916) 278-6156.